All schools must be prepared for the possibility of an emergency. Whether it be an active shooter situation or inclement weather leading to a school closing, schools must have an effective communication procedure in place to alert staff members, teachers, students and parents. Here are six tips to help you improve the quality of your school’s emergency communications.
1. Define roles in an emergency.
Emergency preparedness requires organization. The first step in creating a solid emergency communication plan involves identifying a chain of command and making sure that every person involve understands their role in the communication process. All staff members and teachers should understand which individuals will be responsible for making decisions in emergency situations and distributing information to others. You should also designate a specific member of the staff to field questions related to emergency situations.
2. Identify and list all audiences.
One of your most important tasks in any school emergency situation involves making sure that every person affiliated with the school is aware of the emergency. To ensure that no one is left out, make comprehensive lists of all of the different audiences who will need to receive a notification in the event of an emergency. These lists may include current students, parents of students, teachers, administrators and support staff. Be sure to collect current contact information for each person on these lists, as well as permission to use this contact information in emergency situations.
3. Collaborate with others.
If you are in charge of emergency communications for your school, you may feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. Make this burden lighter by reaching out to other personnel who can help you with the task. Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks to others to ensure that your school can communicate effectively during a crisis.
4. Test your messages.
In a crisis, you want to be sure that every individual on your lists will receive the notification in a timely manner. The best way to do this is to test your messaging systems in advance. After running these tests, ask all people notified if they received the message you sent. If some of your recipients did not get the message, investigate the issue so you can avoid problems in the event of a real emergency.
5. Act quickly in the event of an emergency.
When a school emergency occurs, word of mouth travels fast. Your school’s students, parents and personnel will expect you to have accurate information and provide it to them immediately. For this reason, it is important to send your initial communications quickly to quickly notify the school of emergency situations. However, make sure that the information you send is valid. If you don’t have accurate or complete information at this time, let the recipients of your communications know that you will send them an update as soon as the information you need becomes available. Be sure to direct any questions or concerns to the appropriate person.
6. Be ready to communicate with the media.
When your school is involved in any type of emergency situation, the media is likely to become involved. Depending on the nature of the situation, you may need to compose press releases, respond to questions or even represent the school in an in-person interview. Designate specific members of your staff to handle these tasks.
When a crisis occurs, communicating the information to everyone affiliated with your school is essential. With these tips, you can ensure that everyone affected by the emergency has the information they need.
Joel Lee is the SEO marketing specialist at Trumpia, which earned a reputation as the most complete SMS solution including user-friendly user interface and API for mobile engagement, Smart Targeting, advanced automation, enterprise, and cross-channel features for both mass texting and landline texting use cases.